Rise in claims for cosmetic surgery negligence expected in year ahead

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Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, who work on a no fee, win or lose basis, has recorded a 58% year on year rise in cosmetic surgery claims from 2011 to 2012, with a further increase expected in 2013.

People in the UK are increasingly turning to the surgeon’s knife to perk themselves up with Britons spending around £2.3bn a year on cosmetic treatments and Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors is seeing the majority of claims relate to botched breast augmentation procedures.

Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors has seen a particularly significant increase in patient enquiries seeking claims for bad PIP implants in the last 12 months. Even excluding PIP implants, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors has seen enquiries for all other cosmetic surgery procedures rise by over a third in the past year (36%).

A rise in cosmetic surgery claims reported by Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors corresponds with the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK as reported by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPs) whose members undertook 43,069 procedures for men and women in 2011, compared with 38,274 in 2010.

The number of cosmetic surgery procedures increased steadily by nearly 6% in 2011 following similar rises in 2009 and 2010. When BAAPs publish figures of cosmetic surgery procedures performed in 2012 later this month, a further increase can be expected.

Commenting on the figures, Mike Saul, Partner and Head of Cosmetic Negligence Claims for Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors said: “The rise in claims handled by Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors reflects the inadequate regulatory framework of the industry and increasing occurrence of patient dissatisfaction following cosmetic surgery.

“We anticipate 2013 to be a very busy year as cosmetic surgery becomes an ever increasingly popular procedure of choice within a largely unregulated industry. We expect to see a continual rise in cosmetic surgery negligence claims in the next 12 months and beyond.

“Whilst the government review expected in March will be a step in the right direction leading to tighter regulation in the long term, we are currently being approached by an increasing number of patients who have suffered physical and psychological effects to the detriment of their health and well-being.”

The consumer guidelines set out by BAAPs advise that a patient should have at least a two week period between the initial consultation and the procedure to enable the patient adequate time to reflect on their choice and ‘cool off’. There is also guidance about psychological counselling which is recommended in most cases, however in many instances these guidelines are not followed to the detriment of the patient.

As well as following these procedures, patients about to undergo cosmetic surgery must also be provided with a written guide, to include the terms and conditions of the contract.

Mike Saul adds: "Patients may have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved by cosmetic surgery so it is important for surgeons to counsel patients about the likely outcome, possible risks and complications in advance.

“Through our experience of dealing with cosmetic surgery claims, bad cosmetic surgery is rife due to the fact that standards and guidelines are not adequately controlled putting patients at risk.

“UK cosmetic surgeons have to pay high indemnity fees, often in excess of £40,000 a year as a safeguard for patients, before they are allowed to carry out cosmetic surgery but this doesn’t always guarantee a satisfactory outcome for patients.

“Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors has an unrivalled reputation for handling cosmetic surgery claims and achieving the best possible outcome for our clients through what is often a very emotional experience for them to deal with. We recognise that the cost to patients of negligent surgery is not just physical and financial but also often psychological.”